I'll mow my way to new friends

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By W.B. Evans

It’s been a long time since I jockeyed an infant through busy shopping center or pushed a stroller along a neighborhood sidewalk.

But it has caused a recent stir.

I’m amazed at the number of unlikely shoppers who stop and speak to our  great-granddaughter and pass the time with a kind word or two.

At first, neighbors just glanced away as I nodded my head when we walked past. Now, we get a few waves and smiles. Sometimes, they’ll even walk over to speak.

No, I haven't turned this Maryland neighborhood into a place like the “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” where it only rains after sundown. Change is slow, but I’m trying to do my part to make this a more neighborly place.  

I hope it’s a sign of a deep-rooted gene that makes folks want to be friendly.

It sure beats a cold stare.

Now, I consider myself to be good neighbor, regardless if it’s on the “Charlotte Road” or in a Maryland suburb. The way I figure it, neighbors are supposed to look out for each other.

I find it difficult to ignore my neighbor’s yard and will usually walk a few steps out of my way to pick up a discarded beer can or sandwich wrapper thrown out by some uncaring motorist.

It’s the old fashioned way of being neighborly and not expecting anything in return. Plus, that’s how I was raised.

Spending time with my granddaughter’s family in Maryland – where neighborhoods are crammed full of houses on small plots of fast growing grass – I think I might’ve broken some unspoken homeowners association rule. One neighbor can’t decide if it’s OK to wave at us or not.

Up here, soaking rains are followed by periods of sweltering sunshine that make turf grow as quick as Jack’s bean stalk.

My granddaughter’s family lives between a single mother with young kids and a middle-aged lady whose family occasionally visits on the weekends.

By Lancaster standards, the yards are small.

Well, after recently mowing my granddaughter’s yard, I noticed that the single mother’s yard was about half cut.

I figured the grass had gotten too high or her mower just gave up.

So, trying to be a golden rule kind of neighbor, I sorta butted in while she was away and finished mowing it.

I assumed they could manage after the hard part was done.

I had just put away our mower and taken a shower when the door bell rang.

It was a youngster from next door, who came to thank me.

“How much does my mother owe you?” he said.

“Not a thing,” I said. “I just wanted to help y’all out.”

Perhaps we gained a new friend, maybe one who has some regard for their neighbor. I thought. You never know.

Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Now the middle-aged lady who lives on the other side usually has a landscaping outfit mow and trim up her lawn.

Her yard is very neat and has flowering seasonal shrubs. Recently, her lawn was looking a little ragged.

I noticed her grass was getting fairly high. Since I had a little time to spare, I ran our mower over her front plot, but left any trimming up to her.

She asked me why I mowed her yard and I replied that her yard was always neat and I was just trying to be neighborly.

She seemed shocked that someone would just cut her grass.

On a recent weekend, her family visited and mowed her large back lot. They didn’t cut the front yard, so I decided to be neighborly again.

About an hour later, a landscaping crew pulled in and gave her entire yard a once-over.

You know, I really didn’t expect a thank you from her, but I’m starting to wonder if she just had the yard cut on purpose to show me that my neighborly gesture wasn’t wanted or needed. I think she was giving me a hint to leave her and her yard alone.

Oh well, from now on, I guess I’ll just wave and smile at her.

Bless Pete, change is slow, but hopefully, she will catch on.